Geren Ford Designer Geren Lockhart on Why She Decided to Shutter Her Label

I spoke with the advertising exec-turned-designer Geren Lockhart last week about why she has decided shutter her label—and what's next.
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I spoke with the advertising exec-turned-designer Geren Lockhart last week about why she has decided shutter her label—and what's next.
Geren Lockheart

Geren Lockheart

Spring 2013 was the last collection for designer Geren Lockhart's 13-year-old Geren Ford brand, a contemporary label that was well-loved for its artsy-easy styles. The collection launched in 2000 as loungewear-meets-streetwear—right around the same time as Marc by Marc Jacobs, actually—back when "contemporary" wasn't really even a thing. Geren Ford's first big hit was a pair of silk pants. Lockhart, who was an advertising creative director before she began designing, went on to sell her collection at Barneys, Neiman Marcus and plenty of boutiques worldwide. And she was one of the first brands to collaborate with Urban Outfitters as a part of the store's ongoing series: her Hawks diffusion line featured Geren Ford styles—muted colors, graphic prints—at even-more-accessible prices.

But as fun—and presumably successful—as all that was, Lockhart has decided that her talents (and efforts) may be best put elsewhere. At least for now. The designer has launched three separate websites as a sort of consumer content-meets-branding platform play that will serve as a place for followers of her work to get a peek into her world. (And for potential collaborators to see how they can work with her.) GerenLockhart.com is all about fashion and style. BornPacked.com highlights Lockhart's travels around the world: just in the past year, she's visited London, Paris, Rio, and Copenhagen, to name a few spots. And TheArtBrat.com features exhibits and works of note.

It's a compelling path for Lockhart to take, but it also makes sense given her already-offbeat background. I spoke with Geren last week about the evolution of the Geren Ford brand, and what's next.

Fashionista: Geren Ford was around for more than 10 years—how does it feel to wind it down? Geren Lockhart: It feels nostalgic and sad, but really exciting. The marketplace is so different from the one I entered into. By putting the brand into a time capsule of sorts, there is always the possibility that it can come back to life in a market more suited to where I wanted to take it. I felt that there was more opportunity working to engineer new brands in this wonderful post-recession tech boom. This round of life-changing technology is very personal, and has so many wonderful lifestyle-changing possibilities. I couldn't not take the opportunity to dive right in and start new endeavors building on the amazing and extensive education that Geren Ford gave me.

How has the fashion industry changed since you launched in 2000? More has changed about the fashion industry than has stayed the same since I enrolled at Parsons in 2000. I took my production and distribution global over a number of years—now you're instantly global when you go live. I think that the consumer is beginning to ask questions of the companies they're buying product from in a similar way to those they're asking about what they're really eating and where it came from. I relish this evolution and feel that it will create an industry that will endeavor to be the very best it can in every way. An efficient, thoughtful global business that is delivering quality products and experiences with an element of entertainment incorporated would be so rewarding and inspiring.

You've jumped from advertising to design and now you're doing a bit of both through consulting, lassoing it all together through these three websites. How has the idea of "personal brand" changed since you started out? It has greatly evolved since I started Geren Ford. We've had some great highs and great lows as a society, and I think we define success and failure differently than in we did a decade ago. I LOVE that specialists and risk takers are changing the world. Part of that for me is the idea that there is an umbrella brand that is [my] vision, and that it can be applied to many brands over time.

What would you like to accomplish over the near year? I would like the audiences for the new sites to grow and inspire. I also hope to continue my travels and see some parts of the world I haven't gotten near yet: Japan, India and Southeast Asia are top of the pile. I would also LOVE to have the opportunity to be a strategic creative director for a brand—like Levis, Gap or Urban Outfitters—that has a global audience and the ability to tie great product to media and technology. Lastly, there are a few projects already under way in the incubation/consultation stages and I can't wait for them to be further along so the world can begin to see the great experiences coming their way outside that specific fashion world in which Geren Ford existed.